Food to help with Anxiety

I made this video to share with everyone during COVID-19 isolation. Food is the source of our nutrients and nutrients power our body systems including our neurotransmitters.

There are 21 times per week that you can do something to reduce your anxiety.

The foods I talk about in the video are easy to find, easy to cook and taste delicious. And I show you how.

Let me know how you go with your version of the Bliss Bowl featured in the second half of the video. My kids ate it for lunch and said it was so yummy they want to have it every day now!

That’s right…if you have three meals per day and eat 7 days a week – that’s 21 opportunities to make a ‘smart choice’ about food that will benefit your mental health.

Of course, please continue to see your psychologist or psychiatrist.

Please don’t use this nutrition advice to replace your medications or talking therapy – a healthy base of essential nutrients will support your whole body systems including your neurotransmitters – to work better.

Make these foods part of your ‘anti-anxiety diet’

You might be surprised to learn that specific foods have been shown to reduce anxiety.

Magnesium

Scientific research shows diets low in magnesium were found to increase anxiety-related behaviors. Foods naturally rich in magnesium may, therefore, help a person to feel calmer. Examples include leafy greens, such as spinach and silverbeet.

Other sources include:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains.

Zinc and B6

Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.

B6 helps with carbohydrate metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis – you will find it in legumes, nuts, eggplant, cucumber, meats, fish, quinoa and other grains.

Essential Fatty Acids

Other foods to consider, include fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids. A study completed on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety. (This study used supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids). Prior to the study, omega-3 fatty acids had been linked to improving depression only.

Probiotic Foods

A study in the journal Psychiatry Research suggested a link between probiotic foods and a lowering of social anxiety. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir was linked with fewer symptoms.

B-Complex vitamins

Think of foods rich in B vitamins, such as avocado and almonds. Animal foods are generally a rich source of B vitamins – I always include eggs in a diet plan if tolerated by the individual.

B vitamins work as a complex – they need each other – so a balanced diet is essential. Look for all the colours of the rainbow at every meal, protein, fats and carbohydrates.

Antioxidant rich foods

Anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lowered total antioxidant state. It stands to reason, therefore, that enhancing your diet with foods rich in antioxidants may help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders. A 2010 study reviewed the antioxidant content of 3,100 foods, spices, herbs, beverages, and supplements. Foods designated as high in antioxidants by the USDA include:

  • Beans: Dried small red, Pinto, black, red kidney
  • Fruits: Apples (Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious), prunes, sweet cherries, plums, black plums
  • Berries: Blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, blueberries
  • Nuts: Walnuts, pecans
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, kale, spinach, beets, broccoli
  • Spices with both antioxidant and anti-anxiety properties include turmeric (containing the active ingredient curcumin) and ginger.

These “feel good” foods spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. They are a safe and easy first step in managing anxiety.

Be sure to talk to your doctor if your anxiety symptoms are severe or last more than two weeks. But even if your doctor recommends medication or therapy for anxiety, it is still worth asking whether you might also have some success by adjusting your diet.

While nutritional psychiatry is not a substitute for other treatments, the relationship between food, mood, and anxiety is getting more and more attention.